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Antarctic Wonder As Lakes Speed Across Ice Shelf January 20, 2012
George VI ice shelf
Small lakes along the edge of the George VI ice shelf.
A group of Antarctic lakes has been measured moving five to 10 times faster than the ice shelf they lie on, a phenomenon that probably doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world.

Meticulous satellite image analysis by students at the University of Chicago revealed that the locations of 11 lakes on the edge of the George VI Ice Shelf shift more than 1,600 feet a year.

Writing in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, Douglas MacAyeal thinks the strange and rapid movement is due to the ice shelf being trapped in a narrow channel between Alexander Island and the Antarctic Peninsula.

The subsequent buckling of the ice causes waves to form on the shelf, with the lakes being quickly carried across it in the troughs of the waves.

Photo: NOAA